Tag Archives: Aidan Coleman


It’s been all systems go here at Lost Shark HQ this last month or so… three books about to launch, the residency at Varuna and now this gem… a chapbook titled Presence that I had the immense pleasure of curating for Cordite.


Presence features artwork by Cindy Keong and new poems from Nathan Shepherdson, Pascalle Burton, Aidan Coleman, Louise Oxley, Ross Donlon, Tim Sinclair, Jean Kent, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Sachiko Murakami and Jacqueline Turner. Each of the artists responded to the idea of Presence in their own way, making this a unique reading experience.

Here’s a link to the chapbook… and please, spread the word as this deserves to be read widely!


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Spoken In One Strange Word 2013

qpf 2013 see me at badge-1

On Tuesday night at Riverbend Books, I had the great pleasure of MC’ing the official launch of the 2013 QLD Poetry Festival: spoken in one strange word program. The night kicked off with Rob Morris and Sheish Money who by mid set had everyone smiling and stomping their feet; Rob weaving tales of Ram Chandra, Old Sailors and countless other characters into Sheish’s floating piano notes. And from there, every artist that stood up to the mic – Pascalle Burton, Nathan Shepherdson, Rhyll Tonge & Fern Thompsett and Sue Ray – added  another layer of joy.

It was a showcase of what makes QLD Poetry Festival the most exciting poetry event in this country… a celebration of the strange words poets make.

And now, the 2013 program is available online, and it is quite possibly, the most exciting program I have seen in my 10 year involvement. Artists that have my blood racing are Sachiko Murakami (Canada), Tao Lin (USA), Jacqueline Turner (Canada), Π O (Australia), Aidan Coleman (Australia), Bertie Blackman… and this is just the names on the tip of my tongue. To check out the full program, visit the QPF Website. Spend some time with it… there is so much to get excited about!

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The riches of Australian poetry: five exciting releases from 2012

2012 was a year of riches, with some stunning Australian poetry collections released. Some of these books have not left my bedside, their words always circling. So before 2013 kicks into top speed, let me share with you a handful of books that would make fine companions to the books already on your shelves.


asymmetry_avenuescover.qxdAidan ColemanAsymmetry

Asymmetry is a book that celebrates the exhilaration of language and life. Written in the year after Coleman had a stroke that left him without language and the full use of his body; the poems in Asymmetry provide ‘lightning flashes’ of insight into the poet’s healing process. I have read this collection cover to cover many times over and with each reading, comes a release of pure joy.

Here’s a link to an interview with Aidan, a review of the collection and where you can buy it.


Water MirrorsNicholas PowellWater Mirrors

Winner of the 2011 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, Powell’s words step lightly through the natural landscapes of Finland and Australia and the luminous landscapes of intimacy, desire and memory. Justin Clemens nails it when he describes the work as, ‘at once domestic and cosmic, these poems burgeon like ferns in the bitumen.’

Here’s a link to a review of the collection and to where you can buy it.


Eye_to_EyeMatt HetheringtonEye to Eye

Here’s what I wrote for the back cover… says it all!

Hetherington’s writing has a spell-like quality, revealing gashes of pleasure in moments where you thought only darkness existed. it looks beyond truth into the deeper unknown, to turn the key on the ‘deadlocked heart’. Muscling toward the light, each poem creates its own clamouring music. This is a work of uninhibited force – a bloodletting of language.

Read a poem from the collection here and get in touch with Matt to pick up a copy.


TWP-jpgJean KentTravelling with the wrong phrasebooks

I can’t say it better than Paul Summers, so here’s an excerpt from his review of the collection:

Jean Kent’s poetry is both gentle and powerful. It is tender and brutal, gossamer and robust, like ‘an argument with air’. The palette of her reference shifts effortlessly between continents, between epochs and psychologies, from Rilke to The Animals. She is a poet ‘swinging on the ropes of curiosity and hunger, gifting us distilled studies on belonging and separateness, on trauma & repair.

Here’s the link to the review and to where you can buy a copy.


home{sic} front cover1Julie Beveridgehome{sic}

I will finish with a book that is very dear to my heart, yes, it’s one that I published. So I’ll hand over to Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke to capture the essence of the collection:

home{sic} is a book of journeys: we are taken to a number of places on the planet, to both Australian locations and North American ones.  Beveridge’s perceptive powers of observation are acute. These are travelogues with hard, sometimes jagged edges.  Yet these edges are leavened with a wisdom that resonates with deep psychological truths. As home{sic} reaches its climax on the other side of the Pacific, Beveridge invites us to be, if not defacto God parents for her as a 21st century Eve, then, in a secular sense, partakers of her future journeys with her to-be-born son.  This is an invitation proffered with rich humanity, and a powerful, overarching sense of the joy of life.

Here’s a link to the full review and to where you can buy a copy.


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On the Runway: a chat with Aidan Coleman

It’s now only eleven days until QLD Poetry Festival takes over the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, so let’s keep the interviews coming. This time I chat with award winning South Australian poet, Aidan Coleman.

Your first book, Avenues and Runways was shortlisted in the 2006 NSW Literary Awards. What are your memories of working on that collection?

Lots of drafting … I started working on these poems in second year at university when I was reading a lot of Australian poetry. Most of the poems that survived were written in my early years of teaching.

I remember the rush which came from writing a good poem a nd how poetry amplified the world around me.

An earlier form of the book got rejected a few years before it was published and I’m glad it did because there were a fair few poems I would now disown.


Is there another collection in the pipeline? 

I have a new book coming out on Brandl & Schlesinger next year called Asymmetry. I had a srtoke about four years ago and the first two-thirds of the book are about that. The stroke was pretty severe and I thought at first that I lost the ability to create metaphor. For about a year and half afterwards , the topic of the stroke was raw and upsetting for me to revisit but the writing and naming ended up a key part of the healing. The lyrics that complete the book ‘Poems for Leana’ were predominately written between a year and two years after the stroke when I was in need of a happier subject.


One of the things that is striking about your work, is the clarity in which you capture each image. A favourite image of mine is from your poem, Rainworks:

Along the stave of the fence’s wire
hang the rain’s broken notes.

What is the process you go through in distilling the words down to their bare essence?

I always believe in the power of the image and sometimes more words close off the potential meanings, the possibilities. I tend to discard the images that lack clarity and whittle poems down to bare bones. Many of my favourite poems are very short.


Are you more excited at the start or the finish of the poem?

I tend to build poems around a line and many of them end up not working so while the whole process is a joy, I never quite know I have a poem until I’ve finished. But on finishing a first draft, I tend to do a lot of tinkering.


What are the themes permeating your new work? (can you also include a poem here for me to post)

I’m still writing about the stroke because the book is not closed yet. Other than that, anything that has happened or is happening in my life is material for poetry.


6 weeks ultrasound

Through lunar weather
we saw your light

in the distance.


and still to come.



Across three fences
the lights and noise of a party at anchor;
a paddock dusty
with stars; our lit-up talk

The distance is years from there
to where
your sleeping breath
is at my neck,
your indelible kiss on my mind.


What are you most looking forward to about coming to QLD Poetry Festival?

My parents were too stingy to take me to Dream World as a kid so I’ve never been to Queensland. There are quite a few poets on the program whose work I enjoy that I haven’t seen perform before. Mostly I’m looking forward to poetry and good conversation; the weather as well.


Catch Aidan at QLD Poetry Festival 2011:

Saturday 27 August:

Image Back to the Word, 2:45pm, Theatre Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, with Sawako Nakayasu (Japan) & Cindy Keong (Free Entry)

Sunday 28 August:

Among the Last Bright Leaves, 5:00pm, Shopfront Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, with Ron Pretty (NSW) & Nicola Scholes (Free Entry)


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Poetry in The Weekend Australian

I have been reading with interest, the poetry selections in the Review Magazine of TheWeekend Australian. The poem that featured last weekend by South Australian based poet, Aidan Coleman was a real gem…

Night, from a longer sequence of poems titled  Stroke Poems had a huge impact on me.

It opens:

‘The sounds of evening peel away, leave only/this carnivorous hum./ It’s not my heart but my brain/that’s beating: I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m ok.’

The carnivorous hum of night and pulsing of the brain, drew me immediately into the otherworldly darkness of Coleman’s first moments after waking from a stroke. And the closing lines:

‘I know for someone/ death has felt like this.’

Really knocked me out… such power, such fragility. If you have never read the work of Aidan Coleman, you can get a hit of his work at: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/poetica/features/pod/poets/genxy.htm

And just today, I had some wonderful news… one of my poems has been accepted for publication in the coming months, so I will be sure to keep you all posted when it hits the street!

If you have any tight, newspaper sized poems, you can submit them to: poetry(at)the australian.com.au. The poetry editor is Jaya Savige.

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